WritersWeekly, a site I frequent for leads on writing markets, is sounding the alarm against an Amazon business decision that will prove detrimental to small printing houses.

In an article, Angela Hoy of WritersWeekly talks about how Amazon is now requiring print on demand (POD) publishers to use Amazon subsidiary BookSurge to print their book orders or else “the ‘buy’ button on their Amazon.com book pages will be ‘turned off.’”

The book information would remain on Amazon, and people could still order the book from resellers (companies that list new and used books in Amazon’s Marketplace section), but customers would not be able to buy the book from Amazon directly, nor qualify for the coveted “free shipping” that Amazon offers.

There have already been complaints about the quality of the products produced by BookSurge, as documented in that site.

Of course, having a major retailer dictate the terms of the sales carried on its website in such a monopolistic manner is that Amazon will always have the final say on pricing, distribution and access to services. PODs have a very small market as it is; how can they hope to negotiate for better rates against a behemoth like Amazon?

My other fear is that this will result in the homogenization of tastes. Amazon is already heavily promoting pap bestsellers and self-help books. Why should it exert additional effort in printing one or two copies of an obscure text that will only have a handful of readers?